Archive for October, 2010

Listen up: I like UGA over the Gators. Whaddaya think of that?

Memo to Mark Richt: Bag the black helmets, please. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Memo to Mark Richt: Bag those black helmets forever, please. (AJC photo by Bob Andres)

Your attention, please. I’m about to recant an earlier prediction. I now believe Georgia will beat Florida.

(Let me also debit my increasingly shrinking account of credibility by noting this: I thought the Gators would win the BCS title. What the heck was I thinking?)

I know, I know. The Gators had a week off and Urban Meyer is too clever not to think of something. But the Urbanator has had a while now to get this offense going, and he hasn’t yet. And here’s what I know: Georgia will go to Jacksonville:

• With the better quarterback.

• With the better offense.

• With the better running game.

• Having won three in a row, as opposed to losing three in a row, which is what Florida has done.

I’m aware that Georgia’s three victories have come against three mediocrities, whereas the Gators have lost to Alabama, LSU and Mississippi State — all of which are ensconced in the Top 25. I really …

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UGA heads to Jacksonville having left Kentucky in the dust

These were six of Washaun Ealey's 30 points. (AP photo)

These were six of Washaun Ealey's 30 points. (AP photo)

LEXINGTON, Ky. — On the morning of Oct. 9, the Georgia Bulldogs were 1-4. We mention this because … well, because it’s Oct. 25 and they sure as heck aren’t 1-4 anymore.

They’re a robust 4-4, having won three SEC games by the aggregate score of 128-45. They’re 4-4 headed to Jacksonville in a better frame of mind than the hated Gators, who’ve lost three in a row. They’re 4-4 and maybe they haven’t beaten the Who’s Who of BCS Bullies, but it wasn’t so long ago Georgia couldn’t beat anybody anywhere.

And now you’re asking: Is this apparent resurgence the real deal or just a red (and black) herring? And the answer is …

It’s real for this simple reason: Georgia was far too talented to have been 1-4, and we’re finally seeing what happens when that talent is brought to bear. The Bulldogs won big in a place where South Carolina lost just last week not only because Kentucky messed up — though the Wildcats did more than their share …

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Live from Lexington: Fur sure to fly as Dawgs and Cats meet!

The early arriving Bulldogs survey the surroundings at Commonwealth Stadium. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Early arriving Bulldogs survey the surroundings at Commonwealth Stadium. (Photo by M. Bradley)

Lexington, Ky. – This isn’t how it’s supposed to work. The Kentucky game shouldn’t define Georgia’s season. The Kentucky game should be the one Georgia wins so it can get to the games that define its season.

But this is 2010, and 2010, as we know, has been different. Georgia won its opener. Then it lost four in a row, something no Georgia team under Mark Richt had ever done. Then the Bulldogs beat Tennessee and Vanderbilt by the total score of 84-14. And Saturday night brought the Big Blue, which was 4-3 to Georgia’s 3-4, but which — and this tells us something about the state of Kentucky football — entered as a five-point home underdog.

To its credit, Kentucky had done one thing Georgia couldn’t: It beat South Carolina, thereby thrusting the SEC East into disarray. It again became possible that the Bulldogs, who lost their first three conference games, could win the division. But …

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Mission critical for UGA and Grantham: Corral Randall Cobb

This is where Todd Grantham earns his three-quarters of a million. No knock on the new defensive coordinator, but the Bulldogs could have won the three games they’ve won — Louisiana-Lafayette, Tennessee and Vanderbilt — with Willie Martinez or Marion Campbell or Kevin Ramsey as DC. But Georgia plays Kentucky on Saturday in Lexington, and the Wildcats can score some points.

And this is where we learn if all the talk about the schematic advantages of the 3-4 vis-a-vis the 4-3 was simply talk. This is where we see if having an extra linebacker will help Georgia slow the most dynamic player in the SEC East. He’s Randall Cobb, whom Kentucky deploys as a receiver and a runner and a kick returner and occasionally a thrower.

He’s officially listed as wide receiver/quarterback and essentially acts as the joker in Joker Phillips’ deck, Joker Phillips being the first-year Kentucky coach. Cobb nearly beat Auburn and did beat South Carolina. Against the Tigers he threw for a touchdown, …

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As the Hawks approach a new season, the buzz is long gone

Jamal Crawford and Larry Drew: Why aren't they smiling? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Jamal Crawford and Larry Drew: Why aren't they smiling? (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

There was a time when the Hawks were coming off a 13-win season, but that was in 2005. These Hawks are coming off 53-29, which represents the third-best mark since the team moved here from St. Louis. So why does it feel as if last season was an epic dud?

Because the season ended with a playoff series that was an epic dud, and the summer was worse. The Hawks underspent for a coach and overspent to keep their best player, and their solution to the annual plaint of we-need-a-real-big-man was to sign the journeymen Josh Powell and Etan Thomas.

Getting swept by Orlando by an average of 25.3 points set the Hawks, who’d been clambering ever upward since the 13-69 nadir of Mike Woodson’s first season, back years in the eyes of its constituency, and the double move of promoting Larry Drew and making Joe Johnson the highest-paid free agent simply underscored the long-held notion that this club doesn’t …

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Melky’s gone, which tells us much about the Braves and Wren

"As long as I'm managing, you're on this team, Melky." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

"As long as I'm managing, you're on this team, Melky." (AJC photo by Curtis Compton)

Sooner or later we’ll start to ask ourselves, “How in the world did the 2010 Braves make the playoffs?” And I’m thinking that time is …

Right about now.

The Braves dumped Melky Cabrera and Takashi Saito on Tuesday, eight days after the former had made the 27th out of Game 4 of the Division Series. These were two of the bigger acquisitions Frank Wren made last winter — others were Billy Wagner, who has retired; Troy Glaus, who had nothing left after July, and Eric Hinske, who kept pinch-hitting home runs — and now they’ve been tossed aside.

The Saito move was expected. The Cabrera one was expected if you’d watched him play. And that’s kind of the point: The 2010 Braves had a lot of guys who didn’t do much — Cabrera, Nate McLouth, Yunel Escobar, Matt Diaz, Rick Ankiel, Glaus in April and August and September — and lots more who got hurt. And somehow they qualified for the postseason, same as the …

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Dunta’s hit on Jackson: Scary, but was it against the rules?

Dunta Robinson was fined $50,000 by the NFL today, and his hit on DeSean Jackson was indeed terrifying. Both men stayed down for a while; both had to be helped to their respective locker rooms; both have been diagnosed with concussions. But now the question:

When did “terrifying” become the same as “illegal”?

The NFL announced today it will start suspending players for “egregious and elevated hits.” (This from Ray Anderson, the league’s director of football operations who was once a Falcon exec.)

On Monday, Anderson told Chris Mortensen of ESPN: “We can’t and won’t tolerate what we saw Sunday … These devastating hits and head shots with a very necessary higher standard of accountability … What we saw Sunday was disturbing. We’re talking about avoiding life-altering impacts.”

Thing is, Robinson’s hit wasn’t helmet-to-helmet. It was shoulder-pad-to-helmet. (It appeared helmet-to-helmet to everyone in the stadium, but replays indicated otherwise.) Robinson was penalized for …

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5 reasons I’m (slightly) disappointed in these 4-2 Falcons

This isn't to say there haven't been high points. This was the apogee. (AP photo)

This isn't to say there haven't been high points. This was the apogee. (AP photo)

1. Matt Ryan hasn’t yet had the breakthrough season many projected. He’s tied for 17th among in NFL quarterbacks in passing efficiency. He’s tied for 22nd in yards per attempt. He’s tied for 20th in completion percentage. He was very good against the Cardinals and Saints, so-so against everybody else. He’s excellent on third down — he’s not known as Matty Ice for nothing — but as an every-down quarterback he isn’t significantly better than he was as a rookie. (Granted, he was great as a rookie.)

2. Michael Turner is sleeker than he was a year ago but no more effective. Last season Turner showed up heavy and only started to rumble in midseason, whereupon he hurt his ankle. This time Turner reported leaner and presumably meaner, but his numbers don’t reflect the upgrade in conditioning. He averaged 4.9 yards per carry and 79.2 yards per game in 2009; he’s averaging 4.3 and 77.7 now. He scored 17 …

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In the SEC Least, know who looks hot? Mark Richt and UGA

As Vince Dooley once said: "We've got good depth at dog." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

As Vince Dooley once said: "We've got good depth at dog." (AJC photo by Brant Sanderlin)

Two weeks ago we wondered if Georgia would win another game. (I was pretty confident about Vanderbilt and Idaho State, but the way the Bulldogs were fumbling and getting arrested you couldn’t know.) Now we wonder if they can win the SEC Least. (It’s suddenly possible.) And we also wonder if their coach isn’t again the most stable guy in his division.

Mark Richt has gone from losing four in a row, a personal nadir, to beating two division brethren by the aggregate score of 84-14. In the SEC East, where every team has lost at least two league games, this qualifies as a surge.

How uninspiring has this division, once the class of the collegiate game, become? Consider: Should it beat Kentucky in Lexington on Saturday night, there’s a chance Georgia, which not so long ago was 1-4, would go to Jacksonville favored over Florida.

Because the Gators are awful. And South Carolina looks eminently …

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The ‘F’ in Falcons? It’s also their grade on this midterm exam

That's DeSean Jackson scoring, Thomas DeCoud grasping. (AP photo)

That's DeSean Jackson scoring a touchdown, Thomas DeCoud grasping. (AP photo)

Philadelphia – There haven’t been many times under this administration when the Falcons have been outfought and out-thought, but this was one. The coaching? Lousy. The playing? Awful across the board.

On a day when the national media stood poised to crown this the NFC’s best team, the Falcons stunk out the joint. They trailed after 171 seconds. They trailed by 14 points after eight minutes, 10 seconds. They trailed by double figures the rest of the way. They didn’t look like the finest team in their conference. They barely ran second on Lincoln Financial Field.

“It was a good test for us,” said Tony Gonzalez, the tight end who scored the two touchdowns that made this score almost respectable. “Obviously we didn’t pass it.”

Nope. Flunked all ends up. If they came Ready To Play, it wasn’t apparent. They went three-and-out on their first possession, hoisted a short punt and allowed the Eagles to cover …

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